A blunder?

Liaquat Ali Khan was Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s nominated successor. He was in power as prime minister from 1948 till he was assassinated in 1951. As a new dominion, what Pakistan needed first and foremost was a constitution.

Jinnah formed the constituent assembly to prepare the constitution, but obviously had no time to play a role as he passed away within a year after the inception of Pakistan. India on its part got its constitution in 1949. That constitution is still in play.

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Even Indira Gandhi, who imposed a state of emergency, could not fiddle with the constitution. Such is the respect they gave to the constitution, and this is the respect it deserves in a constitutional setup.

Here in Pakistan in the three crucial and formative years, no effort was made to start the process of making a constitution. Liaquat did not even convene a single session of the constituent assembly to start the process.

The country suffered immensely, for when Liaquat was assassinated, there was no constitutional setup to determine an orderly transition. The result was that by intrigue, Ghulam Muhammad, who was a financial bureaucrat and had no connection with the Muslim League or national politics, took over as the governor-general, appointing Khawaja Nazimuddin the prime minister.

Now started the circus, with prime ministers being dismissed and a new prime minister coming in almost every year if not sooner. In 1954, Ghulam Muhammad arbitrarily dissolved the constituent assembly as it suited him. He was finally replaced by Iskander Mirza. Who was he? A deputy commissioner.

So just because we did not have a constitution, by intrigue power shifted into the hands of the bureaucrats, and finally came the man with the gun.

Had the constituent assembly formed by Jinnah been active in those three formative years under Liaquat, Pakistan would have been a different country today.

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Why did Liaquat avoid starting the process of making a constitution, especially when Jinnah had formed a constituent assembly for this purpose?

It should be some food for thought for historians bith locally and globally.



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